Tomato Slippers

Delicate Slippers

Aside from my timtana experiment last week, I haven’t really done a whole lot of bread baking yet this year.  I’ve been more than a little preoccupied with work, planning our vacation and things of a more pastry-ish nature, so when I decided to make bread again this week there was a fair amount of anticipation on my part.

I once read that the word ciabatta loosely translates to mean “carpet slipper” in Italian.  Given their delicate dough and diminutive stature I can’t really say I’m surprised, though I’m not sure what about carpet slippers is supposed to make them sound appetizing or appealing, despite the fact that they are.

Coincidentally those small, squat rolls are some that I enjoy preparing (and eating) quite a bit.  Of course because I am merely an honorary Italian, I make no bones about putting my own little twists into the bread that I’m baking, and on Family Day yesterday I decided to enhance the ciabatta with a healthy dose of homemade tomato conserva.

Aerated Biga

I began the night before by mixing up a biga (sourdough starter) by combining flour, water and a small amount of yeast and then letting it ferment on the counter.

Conserva

The next morning I incorporated more flour, water, salt, yeast and the conserva into the biga, and kneaded it until it stretched like bubblegum.  Once the olive oil topped conserva was mixed in, the dough turned a slightly unnatural shade of orange, but it smelled rich and earthy, so I knew I was on the right track.

Tinged Orange And Rising

After a lengthy 4 hour rise, I split the dough into small 2×3″ rectangles, sprinkled the tops with salt and let them rise again.  After they proofed, I tossed a handful of ice cubes into a pan in the oven for steam creation, then slotted my sheet tray inside.  20 minutes later I was left with a tray of those delicious rusty coloured beauties you see above.  They’re sort of small, but I think they came out the perfect size to accompany a lunchtime bowl of soup or as a small side sandwich.  To up the textural interest, perhaps next time I’ll rehydrate some coarsely chopped sundried tomatoes to stir in as well.  Yum!

Until next time…

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